Haiku in Praise of the Water Chestnut

How dull the stir fry
bereft of these white discs, coins.
Dear water chestnut.

Sing between my teeth.
How I love your percussion
as my teeth slice through.

O fresh, fresh tuber.
Eager as a potato,
you sprout if too warm.

Charitable treat.
How kind you are to let me
peel your skin like fruit.

Most steadfast chestnut.
No wok robs your crunch, no boil
can soften your song.

Doxology with Crow

Awe, awe, they cry. -Donald Platt

For the levity of your full black bulk
high-stepping over snow; for your cloak
of oil, how the sun reveals its gem-spectrum;
for your unfurled wings shimmering: praise him.


I play jacks with my mother, impossibly
young as she, seven or eight, spindly,
kneeling on linoleum under dim, orange light.

Between our knob-knees bings the rubber ball;
the jacks chink in quick fists. First to gather all
ten without a double bounce or mishap,

my mother wins. Always said she was good at jacks,
I think. I watch her darker hair willow down long
beside mine; see freckles shift with a smirk;

hear her hand clasp jacks: a fist full of molecules like God's.
This tinny jingle of jacks is the jumbled song of me.
In dreams I meet the girl not yet dreaming of me.


Shanna Powlus Wheeler recently graduated from the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the Pennsylvania State University, where she taught courses in composition and creative writing. She hopes to find a publisher for her first collection of poems, "Lo & Behold," which demonstrates a poetics of song and praise, often from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Poems from this manuscript have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, The Christian Century, and North American Review. She also has a book review forthcoming in The Missouri Review. In August, she will begin a career in higher education as Director of the Writing Center at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. She lives in Lock Haven, PA with her husband Drew.


Debra Bruce
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Shanna Powlus Wheeler
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Judith Taylor: No one seems to disagree with me when I say there's something compelling about these images. Maybe it's because we're so inundated by the media with narrative that is manipulated and inflated that these honest little private struggles to say something touch us at the core. The eye with which we see them now is not the eye of the young writer, and that distance is interesting, surprising. Maybe the connection between the adolescent girl and the adult woman, or the diary page and the studio wall, is closer than I think.
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